Glamour: Reflections on the "Modern Woman"
With this audio piece, I set out to trace the contours of postfeminism in my upbringing. Believing postfeminism to be constitutive rather than manipulative of neoliberal subjectivity, I was curious as to what I might uncover in reflecting on my orientation toward the figure of the “modern woman,” a thoroughly neoliberal and postfeminist figuration, of whom rigorous self-discipline and meticulous appearance management is not only expected, but constructed as pleasurable and freely chosen. In keeping with many theorists of postfeminism, I believe such a figuration amounts to a sinister obfuscation of the heterosexist and gendered logics that continue to subtend the construction of modern feminine subjectivities—and the very political order itself. However, as I examined my orientation toward this figure, I became increasingly aware of the ways in which it was ghosted not only by these long-running histories, but by the paradoxical feminist potential of subjectivation achieved through self-shattering. I imagined, at last, the ways in which my orientation to the modern woman is also a site of self-authorization through citation, a process which speaks back to the construction of the neoliberal subject as unitary, free, and totally self-knowing. Ironically, this would seem to undo the very premise from which the modern woman emerges and postfeminism proceeds. While it has traditionally been the feminine’s vulnerability that has rendered it abject, my orientation toward the modern woman is a feminist figuration, a betrayal of the way there is no subjectivity not defined by its mediation through and reference to others—by its very objectification—in other words, in and through its being in the world. The modern woman is a shapeshifting presence whose contours might only be mapped provisionally before she recedes into the surfaces that project her: she is a glimmer, a glamour.
Copyright (c) 2021 Kenya Gutteridge
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